Crucial to Manage Business Reputation with Customers

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffett

Whether personal or business life, reputation is what matters. Considering that reputation is built on trust, it is extremely fragile and a single lapse or error could cause irreversible and irreparable damage to the good reputation and name of a company / person. Given that most businesses have an online presence, the risk of a damaged reputation becomes higher owing to the transparent and highly visible nature of these mediums. A company that makes the mistake of ignoring customer opinion and or failing to manage its business reputation with customers could be headed towards oblivion. It is imperative for companies to not only communicate regularly and effectively with customers via online media, but also listen effectively in order to know exactly what customers say about them, and be able to manage and build their association with customers.

It is a fact that the customers of today rely heavily on the internet to find companies, products, services, and brands. In addition, they are more prone to believe reviews and comments about companies, posted by existing customers and users. Hence, if your company has successfully been able to manage its business reputation with customers, most of the comments and reviews would be in favour of your company, which in turn would enhance the chances of getting business from prospective customers too. The fact is that the reviews and comments do have an impact on the minds of other existing and prospective customers, and could alter the perception people have about your company and its offerings. Regardless of whether your company pays attention to online reviews or not, these reviews do have a serious bearing on whether your company would be able to manage its business reputation with customers or not. It would be prudent therefore, to pay close attention to what customers say.

As a company, do you know the true meaning and value of managing your business reputation with customers? Without monitoring and taking actions to influence the online ‘reactions’ of people towards your business and brand, the chances of a marred business reputation would be high. In addition, it is critical for any business to take note of and immediately address any negative comments and reviews. Ignoring them could further spike the annoyance of a customer, leading a wave of negativity that could easily ‘drown’ a company.

It is understood that in order to manage its business reputation with customers, a company must first have built and maintained a relationship and reputation. It would start with a company putting in efforts to build a name, followed by a series of actions and activities to allow customers to see the value they can get from the company and its offerings, and finally ensure concerted effort to build and manage this business reputation with customers. Despite best efforts, if the reputation of the company were to be threatened by some negative comments and reviews, it would be in the best interest of a company to respond instantly to prevent any serious damage to its business and or reputation.

Establishing and managing business reputation with customers is certainly not an easy task. Given that most people are dependent on the internet for information, news, and reviews, a company would need to first put its online presence in place. Blogs and articles are a great way to get attention towards your company. Well-written content helps a company establish itself as an expert and authority on specific topics, which would help customers and other readers in their business and personal lives. The key however, is consistency. It would be essential to publish fresh content regularly in order for it to be relevant to the existing needs and requirements of the readers. With time, customers and other readers would associate a knowledge base on certain topics with your company, thereby increasing the chances of converting potential customers to actual customers, and ensuring that existing customers provide repeated and extensive business.

Many companies ensure that their website and business are listed on online company directories. This will ensure visibility and greater reach, which in turn would make it easier to influence positively readers and potential customers to engage in business. A very important factor in building and managing business reputation with customers is to encourage them to provide feedback, reviews, and comments. This is incredibly critical – research shows that at least 92% of users first read reviews about a company and at least 98% of such users believe and are influenced by these reviews. The better service your company provides, customers would be inclined to write better reviews, which in turn would help to build and sustain your business reputation with customers.

Customers today have a large number of choices – companies and products – and hence would pay attention only to those companies that offer something unique, different, and would be visible to them all the time. Hence, it would be imperative for a company to stand out both by offering markedly better service and offerings, and putting in place well-designed advertising and promotional activities. Your company could have top quality service and products, but unless you publicize them, customers would not know who you are and what you do. A great of staying the forefront and remaining highly visible is to build and manage social media presence. An increasing number of people are now searching for companies, individuals, and brands via social media, and the better a company can portray itself on these portals, the better chance it would have of building and managing its business reputation with customers.

As mentioned, reputation is built on trust, and hence cannot be built overnight. Your company would need to put in a lot of effort, time, money, and resources to create and build its reputation. There will be times of successes, but also times of failure – hence tenacity and resilience would be extremely important. Industry experts believe that it takes at least 3 months before a company can begin to see some sliver of hope in terms of reputation, but it takes years to become established firmly as a company with robust and top class reputation. Given that it takes so long to establish a sound reputation, it would make sense for a business to guard its reputation such that nothing disrupts the effort put into building it. Companies make several common mistakes when trying to manage business reputation with customers, or when attempting to repair a damaged one.

It is never a good idea to hire people to post great reviews about your company. This may work for a while, but soon the discerning prospective customers would see through the guile, and lose faith in your company forever. It is never a good idea to ‘fight’ negative comments online. It would be better to take the ‘discussion’ offline, in an attempt to reason with the irate customer / reviewer. Another common mistake companies make, is exaggerating the benefits and quality of their products and or services. This amounts to lying, and customers rarely forgive this action.

As a company, you would know what works or does not when trying to manage your business reputation with customers. Make consistent attempts to ensure that customers view your company as a beneficial business partner, and soon you would see the many advantages of doing so.

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